ANTITANK GUNS PART 2:

45 mm - 75 mm Guns

 

45 PstK/sov

(45 mm antitank gun M/Soviet)

45 PstK/32

(45 mm antitank gun M/32)

PICTURE: Captured Soviet 45 PstK/32 antitank gun. (Photo taken in Panssarimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (123 KB).

Calibre:

45 mm x 310 R

Length:

426 cm

Barrel length:

197 cm aka L/46

Weight in action:

425 kg

Rate of fire:

25 - 30 shots/min (maximum)

Muzzle velocity:

330 - 750 m/sec

Magazine:

None

Traverse:

60 degrees

Elevation:

- 8 degrees, + 25 degrees

Max. range:

8900 m (indirect fire) / 6500 m (direct fire)

Width:

137 cm

Height:

125 cm

Country of origin:

Soviet Union

Ammunition types:

Soviet APHE-T 1430 g projectiles 760 m/s

Finnish APHE-T 1400 g projectile 750 - 760 m/s

HE 2135 g projectile 340 m/sec

Canister shot

45 PstK/37 and 45 PstK/38

(45 mm antitank guns M/37 and M/38)

PICTURE: Captured Soviet 45 PstK/37 antitank gun. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (139 KB).

PICTURE: Captured Soviet 45 PstK/38 antitank gun. The guns limber is partly visible behind. (Photo taken in Jalkaväkimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (150 KB).

Calibre:

45 mm x 310 R

Length:

426 cm

Barrel length:

197 cm aka L/46

Weight in action:

425 kg

Rate of fire:

25 - 30 shots/min (maximum)

Muzzle velocity:

330 - 750 m/sec

Magazine:

None

Traverse:

60 degrees

Elevation:

- 8 degrees, + 25 degrees

Max. range:

8900 m (indirect fire) / 6500 m (direct fire)

Width:

161 cm

Height:

125 cm

Country of origin:

Soviet Union

Ammunition types:

Soviet APHE-T 1430 g projectiles 760 m/s

Finnish APHE-T 1400 g projectile 750 - 760 m/s

HE 2135 g projectile 340 m/sec

Canister shot

45 mm PstK/38-41

(45 mm antitank gun M/38-41)

Calibre:

45 mm x 310 R

Length:

412 cm

Barrel length:

197 cm aka L/46

Weight in action:

550 kg

Rate of fire:

25 - 30 shots/min (maximum)

Muzzle velocity:

330 - 750 m/sec

Magazine:

None

Traverse:

60 degrees

Elevation:

- 8 degrees, + 25 degrees

Max. range:

8900 m (indirect fire) / 6500 m (direct fire)

Width:

165 cm

Height:

120 cm

Ammunition types:

Soviet APHE-T 1430 g projectiles 760 m/s

Finnish APHE-T 1400 g projectile 750 - 760 m/s

HE 2135 g projectile 340 m/sec

Canister shot

Armour Penetration:

- "Deutsche and alliierte heereswaffen 1939 - 1945"(APCR?):

- "Guns vs Armour website" by D.M. Honner (B-250 and BR-240 APHE, 760 m/sec):

- "Artillery of World War Two":

- "Punaiset panssarit" Finnish AP-tracer (750 m/sec):

"Punaiset panssarit" Soviet APHE-T (760 m/sec):

Finnish live fire testing year 1943 ("45 psa - Vj4", Finnish AP-T, 760 m/sec):

Finnish use: Finnish military captured maybe about 700 or so Soviet 45-mm antitank-guns during World War 2. The guns remained in Finnish antitank-weapon inventory until year 1960.

The Soviets had realised that they needed antitank-guns already in late 1920's and first bought 37-mm antitank-guns from German firm Rheinmetall, but soon they also started developing their own versions. Soviet 45-mm at-gun m/32 was basically a slightly enlarged version of early German 37-mm antitank-gun, with wooden wheels and all. Largest differences (other the calibre and larger size) were in sights and production methods.

Only few years later the wooden wheels were replaced with rubber wheels, which had spokes and were more suitable for faster towing speeds (read: motorised towing). Also the structure of towing system proved to have problems in high towing speeds, so it was modified, guns with this improvement were named as m/37. Modification of towing system was not totally successful, so further improvements were made and they resulted introducing m/38. One important technical difference for these guns was also in semi-automatic (after firing a shot it removed used cartridge case was remained open for the next round) breech system used in these guns. In m/32 the semiautomatic-mechanism worked only with APHE-ammunition, which meant reduced rate-of-fire with other ammunition types (such as high explosive). All versions starting from m/37 had improved semi-automatic mechanism, which worked also with other ammunition types. Later more easily produced version called m/38-41 was introduced. The main reason why Finnish Army decided to separate these guns to different models was the spare-parts maintenance - spare parts of various Russian 45-mm antitank-gun were not necessarily interchangeable between various gun models. Year 1941 the Soviets were surprised by German invasion and after suffering heavy losses found themselves with shortage of antitank-guns. In that situation they introduced improvised emergency version of 45-mm antitank-gun, which they named model 1941 and Finnish Army accordingly named 45 PstK/41. Basically 45 PstK/41 had 45 Psv.K/38 tank-gun installed on rudimentary improvised antitank-gun mount. Finnish Army captured four of these improvised antitank-guns, but apparently did not take any of them to its own use. Once the Soviets got their industry sorted out and antitank-gun manufacturing running again they introduced normal-quality version of 45-mm antitank-gun with notably longer (L/66) barrel known as antitank-gun m/42.

PICTURE: One of the four captured Soviet 45 PstK/41 antitank guns, what is known none of these guns saw any use Finnish military. Notice, claimed in some websites, this is not the same gun as more traditional 45 PstK/38-41. (Photo taken in Panssarimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (88 KB).

The reasoning behind Soviet 45-mm antitank-gun model 1941 was quite simple, it was introduced in hurried times of 1941 when the Soviets needed any weapons that could get fast. Since they already had existing spare 45-mm tank guns, why not put them into good use as improvised antitank-guns. Later m/42 antitank-gun with its longer barrel was an effort of trying to get more muzzle velocity out of existing ammunition and therefore better armour penetration capability. When introduced in early 1930's Soviet 45-mm at-gun was excellent weapon, at that time its AP shell had enough power to punch through both walls of typical tanks of that time. Year 1939 it still was more effective than most antitank-guns of that time and was powerful enough to be threat to all existing tanks. Fast progress of tanks during World War 2 left it behind, new medium and heavy tanks proved difficult or impossible for it to kill and by end of the war it had become quite outdated as antitank-gun. However besides armour piercing shells, these guns had also high explosive shells, which were highly effective for gun of this caliber range. The Soviets also used their 45-mm antitank-guns routinely for direct fire support in the frontline, so powerful HE-shells proved highly useful. All Soviet 45-mm antitank-guns were suitable both to motorized towing and being towed with horses. Two horses and a limber were needed for towing the gun.

PICTURE: Side profile of 45 PstK/37 antitank gun. Notice four kill rings in gun barrel. (Photo taken in Panssarimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (177 KB).

Finnish troops captured some 125 Soviet 45-mm antitank-guns during Winter War. As the Finns had serious shortage of antitank-guns the captured guns were very soon pressed to Finnish use. Finnish soldiers compared the 45-mm Soviet antitank-guns to 37-mm Bofors guns and considered Soviet 45-mm gun to be somewhat rough on the edges when it to manufacturing quality, but effective. It did not take long until Antitank Training Centre started training crews for captured 45-mm antitank-guns and the Finns lost couple of these guns in combat already during Winter War. June of 1940 93 of the 45-mm antitank-guns captured in Winter War remained in Finnish use and M/32 was the most common model of 45-mm antitank-guns in Finnish use at that time. During first three months of Continuation War in year 1941 Finnish troops captured much larger number of 45-mm antitank-guns - almost 400 guns were captured those months. During the trench war period (Dec 1941 - June 1944) their number in use of Finnish military peaked to some 670 guns. Very few antitank-guns were captured or lost during the trench war period Continuation War in January 1942 - May 1944. Once the Soviet offensive started in June of 1944 the battles of summer 1944 proved very costly to 45-mm antitank-guns existing in Finnish use with Finnish military losing dozens of guns. But in last battles they were again captured in large numbers, so in the end the total number in Finnish use did not drop that much by end of World War 2. Even after the guns who were in worst shape had been scrapped after the war, year 1948 Finnish Army still had 475 of 45-mm antitank-guns in its inventory.

Year 1948 still 475 of captured 45-mm antitank-guns remained in Finnish inventory:

Model of 45 mm at-gun

Amount

45 PstK/32

203

45 PstK/37

79

45 PstK/38

133

45 PstK/38-41

54

45 PstK/41

4

45 PstK/42

2

Total

475

PICTURE: Closer look to systems of 45 PstK/37 antitank gun. Comparing to German 37 PstK/37 easily reveals the close relation, but also notable difference in type of breech system. While German antitank-gun had horizontal sliding breech block the Soviet 45-mm antitank-guns had vertical sliding breech block. Notice also captured Soviet optical sight. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (68 KB).

Finnish Army ammunition manuals list following ammunition for captured 45-mm antitank-guns:

  • 45 tkrvkr 27/30-R: TNT-filled HE ammunition.
  • 45 p tkrv 36/40-KT: TNT-filled ammunition, long shell. Captured Soviet UO-240.
  • 45 pstkr 23/29-ps: Captured Soviet BR-243 and UBR-243 APHE-T ammunition.
  • 45 psv - Vj4: Finnish APHE-T ammunition with 4-second tracer.
  • 45 psa - Vj4: Finnish AP-T ammunition with 4-second tracer. Added to manuals June of 1942.
  • 45 kartussi: Captured Soviet Shch-210 canister shot.
  • About half of the ammunition that Finnish military used with these guns was captured, while the other half was Finnish made. Finnish production for armour piercing high explosive tracer (APHE-T) ammunition started in VTT (Valtion Tykkitehdas = State Artillery factory) in late 1940 and manufacturing of high explosive (HE) ammunition started year 1942. Also Finnish armour piercing tracer (AP-T) ammunition was introduced to manufacturing in year 1942. During World War 2 Finnish industry manufactured almost 112,000 AP-T + APHE-T rounds and over 358,000 HE rounds. In addition 15,000 HE rounds and 15,000 APHE rounds were bought from Germany in year 1944. Soviet ammunition inventory for these guns included also more potent armour piercing composite rigid (APCR) ammunition, but captured APCR ammunition is not listed in Finnish ammunition manuals. So it is quite likely that none or only very small number of APCR rounds was captured. Anyway Soviet production of APCR-ammunition for these guns does not seem to have started until year 1942, at which point the Finnish attack had stopped and capturing large amount of Soviet equipment had become rare. Finnish troops captured only two long-barrel M/42 antitank guns. They were both captured in summer of 1944 (first one in Kuuterselkä battle in mid-June of 1944) and Finnish military never used them.

    PICTURE: Captured 45-mm Soviet antitank-gun with Finnish-designed coastal gun mount. During Continuation War Finnish military developed this sort of gun mount for coastal use. At least some of the numerous 45-mm antitank guns issued to coastal troops were equipped with these gun mounts. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 125110). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (173 KB).

    Gun sights which Finnish military used with captured 45-mm Soviet antitank guns fall into three categories:

  • Captured optical antitank-gun sight: Basic model similar as the one Soviets used with machineguns, but version specially designed for 45-mm at-gun (for example distance setting drum especially made for these guns). Marked with text "45-MM PUSHKA" (in cyrillic alphabet).
  • Captured optical machinegun-sight: Soviets seem to have adapted also these ordinary machinegun-sights for antitank-gun use. As can be expected the range settings were for Maxim m/1910 machinegun and using them correctly with antitank-gun demanded additional firing table, which contained correct elevation settings used for different ranges.
  • Finnish collimator sight: Used in those 45-mm at-guns captured without sights or with broken sights.
  • Losses of captured 45-mm Soviet antitank-guns during period 9th of June - 7th of July 1944:

    Unit:

    Losses:

    II Army Corps

    3

    III Army Corps

    11

    IV Army Corps

    24

    V Army Corps

    19

    Aunus Group

    28

    Finnish Navy

    16

    Ladoga Coastal Brigade

    2

    Total:

    103

    As mentioned year 1948 2 Finnish military still had 475 of captured Soviet 45-mm antitank-guns. After the war those 45-mm antitank-guns, that still remained, were warehoused. Even if quite outdated they were still so numerous, that they remained reserved for antitank use with Finnish military until year 1960. After that they were re-named as infantry guns and their role changed accordingly. Finnish coastal defence troops had used these guns already during Continuation War and after World War 2 coastal defence simply received more of them, since the Army no longer had such need for them. In their coastal (beach defence) role they remained in Finnish use until late 1980's or so and also special fixed gun mount was introduced for this use. Since early 1990's remaining guns have been sold to museums and collectors little by little.

     

    47 PstK/35 and 47 PstK/39

    (47 mm antitank guns M/35 and M/39)

    (Swiss 47 mm Böhler antitank gun M/35)

    (Italian 47/32 Mod. 39 antitank gun)

    PICTURE: 47 PstK/39 antitank-gun being used for beach defence. Soldier behind the gun has captured SVT-40 semi-automatic rifle. Photo taken in Taipale February of 1942. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 73663). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (136 KB).

    Calibre:

    47 mm x 185 R / 47 mm x 195 R (*)

    Length:

    313 cm

    Barrel length:

    183 cm (with muzzle brake) aka L/32

    Weight in action:

    310 kg (47 PstK/35) / 330 kg (47 PstK/39)

    Rate of fire:

    10 shots/min (practical)

    Muzzle velocity:

    535 m/sec / 595 m/sec (**)

    Magazine:

    None

    Traverse:

    50 degrees

    Elevation:

    - 10 degrees, + 60 degrees

    Max. range:

    9000 m (indirect fire)

    47 PstK/35: 2000 m (direct fire)

    47 PstK/39: 2500 m (direct fire)

    Width:

    102 cm

    Height:

    88 cm

    Country of origin:

    Switzerland (Austrian made) & Italy (Italian made)

    Ammunition types:

    Swiss/Austrian 47 PstK/35:

    - Swiss APHE-T 1764 g projectile 535 m/s

    Italian 47 PstK/39:

    - Italian APHE-T 1450 g projectile 595 m/sec

    (*) 47 mm x 185 R used with 47 PstK/35 and 47 mm x 195 R used with 47 PstK/39.

    (**) With ammunition that was in Finnish use.

    Armour penetration:

    - "Die Bewaffnung des Österreichischen etc" (47 PstK/35 with Austrian APHE 1450 g projectile 650 m/sec):

    - "Tanks vs Armour" (47 PstK/39 with Italian APHE 1440 g projectile 630 m/sec):

    - "Panzerabwehrkanonen 1916 - 1977:" (Italian 47/32 Mod. 39, projectile presumably APHE-T?):

    - "Panzerabwehrkanonen 1916 - 1977:" (Swiss 47-mm Böhler at-gun m/35, projectile presumably APHE-T?):

    Finnish use: 10 Austrian 37 PstK/35 and 12 Italian 37 PstK/39 at-guns were bought during Winter War and were delivered during Interim Peace. When Continuation War started they were issued to (antitank) gun companies of frontline infantry units, but were soon removed from this use and ended up to coastal defence.

    Both of these guns were versions of infantry/antitank gun manufactured by Austrian company Böhler starting from mid 1930's. From these two gun types Austrian M/35 was the original version while, while M/39 was improved Italian version which was more focused to antitank use. Other countries that bought Böhler guns or its production license included Romania, Lithuania and Estonia. 47-mm Böhler guns were sold as infantry guns, but they were suitable to be used as antitank-guns as well. Their structure was also somewhat unique as far moving the gun into firing position and setting it ready for use was concerned: Wheels of the gun needed to be removed and front part of gun put on top of a plate-like foot, this gave carriage a three point stand that was both stable and low, making spotting and hitting the gun more difficult for the enemy. However this was obviously also more time consuming than what was usual with antitank-guns of 1930's. Structure used in these guns also allowed them to be dismantled to parts light enough to be carried by men, mules or horses like a mountain gun. However, these special features didn't amend the fact that their ballistics against armour were not particularly good. In addition lacking gun shield left gun crew without the small but important (partly psychological) shelter, that it would have offered against small arms fire and shrapnel.

    Finland bought these guns from Switzerland and Italy during Winter War, but in both cases the guns arrived only during Interim Peace. More details of those deals:

  • 47 PstK/35: 10 Austrian made guns and 5,000 shells bought from Switzerland.
  • 47 PstK/39: 12 Italian manufactured guns bought from Italy.
  • The visible differences between the two gun-types were:

  • 47 PstK/35: Metal plates in wheels and muzzle brake.
  • 47 PstK/39: Wheel structure with spokes, no muzzle brake.
  • As noted the guns did not use same ammunition even if they were ballistics-wise relatively close to each other. Also production methods used making them had differences, which made spare parts of these two guns incompatible with each other.

    PICTURE: Gun crews posing with their 47 PstK/35 antitank-guns. Photo taken in Hytti June of 1941. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 40504). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (134 KB).

    Year 1941 Italian 47 PstK/39 was tested in Panssaripataljoona (Tank Battalion). The test report wasn't very favourable. Besides noting the structural details poorly suiting to Finnish use and the difficulties resulting them, the report also noted that the Italian gun sight was too complicated and armour penetration rather poor for gun of this size. In addition the gun was noted lacking a semiautomatic mechanism used in most antitank-guns. The mechanism would have allowed for it to automatically remove cartridge case and leave the breech open after firing a shot, so this resulted a slower rate of fire. The report ended with suggestion, that if equipped with more suitable (simple) gun sight and suitable HE-round, the gun might be suitable as a bunker gun. However the report apparently didn't lead to any measures.

    Parts, to which these antitank-guns could be disassembled for transport:

    parts:

    47 PstK/35

    47 PstK/39

    gun barrel with breech

    74 kg

    80 kg

    gun cradle and sleigh

    73 kg

    80 kg

    gun carriage

    73 kg

    74 kg

    trails and wheels

    60 kg

    71 kg

    total:

    280 kg

    305 kg

    During early Continuation War troops of Finnish 2nd Army Corps used these guns shortly. Soon they were removed from frontline use and reissued to coastal defence troops of Lake Ladoga. In spring of 1942 they were transferred to Finnish Navy and remained in there until end of World War 2. After that they remained warehoused until being sold to Interarms and shipped abroad in 1960.

     

    50 PstK/38

    (50 mm antitank gun M/38)

    (5.0 cm Pak 38)

    PICTURE: 50 PstK/38 antitank gun with lower part of shield opened up. (Photo taken in Panssarimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (159 KB).

    Calibre:

    50 mm x 419 R

    Length:

    475 cm

    Barrel length:

    300 cm aka L/60

    Weight in action:

    830 kg

    Rate of fire:

    12 - 15/min

    Muzzle velocity:

    550 - 1180 m/sec

    Magazine:

    None

    Traverse:

    65 degrees

    Elevation:

    - 8 degrees, + 27 degrees

    Max. range:

    2500 m (direct fire)

    Width:

    185 cm

    Height:

    105 cm

    Country of origin:

    Germany

    Ammunition types:

    APHE-T (Pzgr.38) projectile 2060 g 830 m/sec

    APCR (Pzgr.40) projectile 980 g 1180 m/sec

    HE projectile 1960 g 550 m/sec

    Armour Penetration:

    - "Deutsche and alliierte heereswaffen 1939 - 1945"(Pzgr.40 APCR?):

    - "Small arms, artillery and special weapons of the third reich":

    - "Panzerabwerhgeschütze etc":

    - "Twentieth Century Artillery":

    - Finnish live fire testing year 1943 ("50 pspekr 22/27", German APHE, 835 m/sec):

    - Finnish live fire testing year 1943 ("50 psl-Vj2", German APCR, 1080 m/sec):

    Finnish use: 27 guns were imported from Germany in summer of 1942, they remained in use of Finnish frontline units until end of World War 2.

    PICTURE: 50 PstK/38 antitank gun with lower part of gun shield folded up. (Photo taken in Panssarimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (87 KB).

    The Germans started having doubts about effectiveness of 3,7 cm Pak already during Spanish Civil War, so Rheinmetall started development of new 5-cm antitank gun in 1938. It took until late 1940 from them to start issuing new 5 cm Pak to their troops and even than production was quite slow early on (still in 1st of June 1941 German troops located to east had only 107 guns of this type). 5-cm Pak proved a success, with new tungsten-cored Pzgr. 40 ammunition it was able to take out all Allied medium tanks such as T-34/76 and M4 Sherman. However, the shortage of tungsten needed for production of Pzgr.40 projectiles and ever thickening armour in tanks finally were too much for it also, so production of these guns was ended in 1943, by that time over 9,500 had been made.

    Finland bought 27 antitank guns of this type in two deliveries:

    Delivery date

    Amount

    July of 1942

    12

    December of 1942

    15

    Also Finnish military became aware of need acquiring more effective antitank-guns after facing number of T-34 and KV-1 tanks in battles of year of 1941. So Finland bought 27 of these antitank-guns from Germany in year 1942. Guns of the first delivery were issued to Finnish troops in August of 1942. They were basically distributed to all main directions of Finnish front, as first delivery was issued to antitank gun companies of Groups of Maaselkä and Aunus while 12 guns from second shipment were given to Isthmus Group and Armour Division. Each of these received enough (6 guns) PstK/38 to equip one antitank company.

    PICTURE: 50 PstK/38 antitank gun in field fortified position. Note semi-automatic breech system with horizontal sliding breech block (Photo taken in Panssarimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (136 KB).

    Units with 50 PstK/38 antitank guns in 1st of May 1944:

  • Armour Division: 6 guns
  • Cavalry Brigade: 6 guns
  • 5th Division: 6 guns
  • 1st Division: 6 guns
  • Antitank training centre: 1 gun
  • Suojeluskunta HQ personnel school: 1 gun
  • German 50-mm at-gun worked well in Finnish hands and short shooting distances typically offered by Finnish terrain made them relatively effective even against most heavily armoured tanks. When delivered it was the most powerful and only antitank gun in Finnish use capable of reliably destroying T-34 tanks, so in late June of 1944 the Finns still expressed to be willing to get these guns delivered instead of heavier 75-mm antitank guns. However, reading battle reports makes clear that knocking out T-34/85 tanks with this gun wasn't exactly easy. It practically always demanded a positition that allowed shooting from side of the tank and close shooting range to succeed. PstK/38 was the first antitank gun in Finnish inventory that was too heavy for gun crew of few men to effectively push it around, so in situations in which gun positions were about to be overrun by Soviet infantry this made taking the gun with the retreating crew quite problematic. Considering small number of these guns in use of Finnish Army to begin with, the number of 50 PstK/38 lost in battle during summer of 1944 was very high with only 15 guns surviving the war. The small number of surviving guns may have been a factor for these guns being removed from antitank-weaponry in use of Finnish military already that same year. After World War 2 they were warehoused, but not declared obsolete until year 1986. In late 1980's three guns were sold to collectors and the rest given to museums.

    Losses of 50 PstK/38 antitank-guns during period 9th of June - 7th of July 1944:

    Unit:

    Losses:

    IV Army Corps

    3

    V Army Corps

    6

    Total:

    9

    Finnish ammunition manuals list following ammunition for 50 PstK/38 in Finnish use:

  • 50 pspekrv 22/27-ps: German 5.0 cm Pzgr. Patr. der Pak. 38 APHE-T with 2-sec tracer.
  • 50 tkrv 28/33-39: German Sprgr. Patr. 38 de Pak. 38 HE-ammunition.
  • 50 psl-Vj2: German Pzgr. 40 APCR-round with 2-second tracer.
  • It is worth noting that there was rather limited number of 50 psl-Vj2 aka Pz.Gr 40 APCR-T in Finnish use. What is known the only delivery of this ammunition happened in June of 1942 and contained 944 rounds. Shortage of tungsten stopped German production of ammunition with tungsten cores, which explains not having later deliveries. The Germans developed also HEAT-T bomb quite similar to Stielgrenade 41 for their 50-mm antitank-guns, but Finnish Army never acquired any.

     

    75 PstK/97-38 "Mulatti"

    (75 mm antitank gun M/97-38 "Mulato")

    (7.5 cm Pak 97/38)

    PICTURE: 75 PstK/97-38 antitank gun. This gun has been raised from the ground for better storaging. (Photo taken in Tykistömuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (166 KB).

    Calibre:

    75 mm x 350 R

    Length:

    485 cm

    Barrel length:

    272 (with muzzle brake) cm aka L/36

    Weight in action:

    1190 kg

    Rate of fire:

    12 - 14/min

    Muzzle velocity:

    450 - 570 m/sec

    Magazine:

    None

    Traverse:

    60 degrees

    Elevation:

    - 8 degrees, + 25 degrees

    Max. range:

    9400 m (indirect fire) / ? (direct fire)

    Width:

    182 cm

    Height:

    115 cm

    Country of origin:

    Germany

    Ammunition types:

    AP (Pz Patr. K (P)) projectile 6800 g 570 m/sec (*)

    AP ("pspkrv 59/66-ps") projectile 6400 g 570 m/sec

    AP-T ("psa - Vj4") projectile 6075 g 590 m/sec

    HEAT (Gr 38/97 HL/C (f)) projectile 4800 g 450 m/sec (*)

    HEAT ("75 hkr 42-18/24-38") projectile 4660 g 400 m/sec

    HE (4 shell models suited for this gun in German use)

    (*) Likely not used in Finland (not included in Finnish manuals), but late war main antitank ammunitions for the Germans with this gun.

    Armour penetration:

    - "Panzerabwerhgeschütze etc":

    - "Marskin Panssarintuhoojat, page 378":

    - Finnish live fire testing year 1943 ("75 psa - Vj4", AP-T, 590 m/sec):

    Finnish use: 46 guns were bought from Germany and delivered in 1943, they remained in use of Finnish frontline units until end of World War 2.

    PICTURE: 75 PstK/97-38 antitank gun ready for transport. German 50-mm and 75-mm antitank guns all had basically the same system with third wheel for towing. Notice the wheel and folded up lower part of gun shield. (Photo taken in Panssarimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (98 KB).

    After running to new Allied medium and heavy tanks (such as Soviet T-34 and KV-1) the Germans found out that they needed antitank guns more powerful than 50 mm Pak. As a stop gap solution this 75-mm antitank gun was introduced. It basically combined gun barrel of French 75-mm model 1897 field gun equipped with muzzle-break to carriage of German 5.0 cm Pak 38. Ammunition used typically included captured French HE-rounds, captured Polish AP-rounds and German made HEAT-rounds, however using AP-rounds was not favoured and HEAT was the main ammunition type in antitank use with German troops. Reason for this was quite simple: The gun was quite unstable and recoil with AP-rounds was so fearsome that the Germans nicknamed this gun type as "Mustang". This gun was introduced to German troops in November of 1941 and in years 1941 - 1942 some 700 guns of this type were manufactured. According some sources the total production totalled about 3700 guns. 7.5 cm Pak 97/38 as Germans called it was far from perfect, but it worked and was cheap to produce (cost and need of work were about two thirds of what was needed with 7.5 cm Pak 40).

    PICTURE: Closer look behind gun shield of 75 PstK/97-38 antitank gun. Note Nordenfelt eccentric screw breech originating from French m 1897 field gun. Gun sight missing as usual. (Photo taken in Jalkaväkimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (167 KB).

    Finland had bought 48 French 75-mm field guns model 1897 (called 75 K 97 in Finland) and 50,000 shells from France in 1940. Barrels of the bought guns were in terribly wear down condition and dispersion in arch fire was unacceptably large. Year 1942 all 75 K 97 field guns were gathered away from fortification artillery batteries that had used them. By February of 1943 the Finns had decided to check if the Germans were willing to build them 7,5 cm Pak 97/38 antitank-guns from 60 gun barrels of 75 K 97 that the Finns had. An agreement was achieved and the Germans manufactured 46 antitank guns for the Finns by using delivered gun barrels.

    Deliveries of these guns arrived:

    Delivery date

    Amount

    25th of March 1943

    30

    16th of June 1943

    16

    Finnish soldiers quickly nicknamed these guns "Mulatti" (Mulato) after the combined structure from two guns of two different countries. Compared to other Finnish at-guns these were very good so they were issued to units located all over the frontline and saw had battles in frontline. In battles of summer of 1944 seven guns of this type were lost. Four of the lost guns belonged to 4th Army Corps (in Carelian Isthmus) and two belonged to Aunus Group (in northern shore of Lake Ladoga). After World War 2 the remaining 39 guns remained in antitank-weapons inventory of Finnish Army until year 1986. They were also declared obsolete the same year.

    Finnish manuals list two AP-shells for this gun: 75 pspkrv 59/66-ps was old French M/1910 APHE-projectile loaded to 75 mm x 338R cartridge case while 75 psa - Vj4 had new AP projectile with 4 second tracer. However firing of "75 psa - Vj4" was recommended in extreme emergency only - gun carriage of 75 PstK/97-38 was not strong enough to endure lot of shooting with this ammunition. The recommended antitank ammunion were HEAT-shells. In Finland this meant ammunition with 75 hkr 42-18/24-38 (German 7.5 cm Gr. 38 Hl/B) warheads capable achieving about 75-mm penetration from 60-degree point of impact.

     

    75 K/40

    (75 mm antitank gun M/40)

    (7.5 cm Pak 40)

    PICTURE: 75 K/40 antitank gun. (Photo taken in yard of Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (151 KB).

    Calibre:

    75 mm x 714 R

    Length:

    584 cm

    Barrel length:

    345 cm aka L/46

    Weight in action:

    1425 kg

    Rate of fire:

    12 - 14/min

    Muzzle velocity:

    475 - 990 m/sec

    Magazine:

    None

    Traverse:

    65 degrees

    Elevation:

    - 6 degrees, + 22 degrees

    Max. range:

    10500 m (indirect fire) / 2000 m (direct fire)

    Width:

    198 cm

    Height:

    126 cm

    Country of origin:

    Germany

    Ammunition types:

    APHE (Pzgr.39 & Pzgr. 39 AL) 6800 g projectile 750 m/s

    APCR-T (Pzgr.40) 4100 g projectile 930 - 990 m/sec

    HEAT-T (Pz Patr. 39 HL/B) 4600 g projectile 475 m/sec

    HE (Spr. Gr. 34) 5750 g projectile 550 m/sec

    Armour Penetration:

    - "Deutsche and alliierte heereswaffen 1939 - 1945"(Pzgr.40 APCR?):

    - "Small arms, artillery and special weapons of the third reich":

    - "Twentieth Century Artillery":

    "Panzerabwerhgeschütze etc":

    Finnish use: 210 Guns bought from Germany and delivered 1943 - 1944. They were mainly used to replace smaller antitank guns and remained in Finnish frontline antitank guns even long after World War 2.

    Development of 75-mm antitank gun had started in Germany already in 1939. 7,5 cm Pak 40 as Germans called this gun was basically scaled up version of earlier 5,0 cm Pak 38 with larger muzzle brake and more angular gun shield having two plates. Production started late 1941 and some 1,360 were sent to frontline troops in 1942. Production continued until collapse of Germany and totalled about 23,300 guns. The gun had been designed for motorised towing and could also be equipped for indirect fire. It also had breech system with horizontal sliding breech block and semi-automatic mechanism, which removed cartridge case after firing the shot and left breech open for the next round.

    First Finnish contract of purchase for 75 K/40 antitank guns included 50 guns, which arrived in two deliveries:

    Delivery date

    Amount

    23rd of May 1943

    25

    16th of June 1943

    25

    PICTURE: Closer look to systems of 75 K/40 antitank gun. Note semiautomatic breech system using horizontal sliding wedge breech and sighs in its left side. (Photo taken in Jalkaväkimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (192 KB).

    Second deal of purchase was negotiated in March of 1943. Deliveries following it:

    Delivery date

    Amount

    21st of February 1944

    40

    4th of March 1944

    20

    20th of March 1944

    20

    Soviet offensive in Karelian Isthmus in summer of 1944 lead to further deliveries:

    Delivery date

    Amount

    July of 1944

    40

    August of 1944

    40

    This was the most powerful antitank-gun in Finnish inventory during World War 2. Typically referred simply as 75 K/40 (75-mm cannon model 1940), it was powerful but heavy and therefore difficult to manhandle if compared to other Finnish-used antitank-guns. Finnish antitank-gun companies in year 1944 can be divided to three categories: Divisional, (infantry) regimental and those belonging (new at that time) (infantry) brigades. Divisional antitank-gun companies were the ones, which got 50-mm and 75-mm antitank guns. Antitank-gun companies belonging to infantry regiments and grigades had to do with less effective German 37-mm and Soviet 45-mm antitank guns. However, this did not mean that even some of the divisional antitank-gun companies would not have been armed with 37-mm and 45-mm antitank-guns. The number of 75 K/40 at-guns delivered to Finland after beginning of Soviet offensive at summer of 1944 could only barely replace battle losses. Hence there was little chance of replacing older and less effective antitank-guns with them in any real significant scale.

    PICTURE: Another sample of 75 K/40 antitank gun. Notice "kill rings" in gun barrel. The gun on the background is 76 RK/27 infantry gun, which year 1944 was often pressed also as role of antitank-gun. (Photo taken in Panssarimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (138 KB).

    Finnish troops lost 60 guns of this type in battles of summer 1944. At that time this gun type was the best antitank-gun in Finnish use. However large weight of these guns made manhandling them to position and off with men practically impossible. This resulted the need to pick the gun position very carefully each time, since the towing vehicle would have be able to get to the gun and gun crew had to prepare for leaving the position with little warning time if situation started looking risky. Also captured Komsomolets A-20 towing tractors (which the Finns used as towing vehicles of antitank guns in many units) barely had enough power for towing them even on road. From those 60 guns lost in summer of 1944 48 belonged to 4th Army Corps (which fought in Carelian Isthmus), 11 belonged to Aunus Group (located north of Lake Ladoga) and only 1 belonged to 3rd Army Corps (in northern parts of Carelian Isthmus). 75 K/40 was the last antitank-gun acquired by Finnish Armed Forces and remained as backbone of Finnish long-range antitank weaponry until being replaced by recoilless rifles and antitank missiles. In 1960's they remained as only antitank-gun type which the Finns still kept reserved for antitank use. By that time time all other World War 2 era antitank-guns in Finnish inventory had already been reserved to other duties. 75 K/40 guns stayed in training use also after the war and remained in antitank weapons inventory of Finnish military until being declared obsolete in year 1986. After that most of the remaining 141 guns were sold to collectors, given to museums or used as monuments.

    Finnish Army used all the four ammunition types listed above, but Pzgr.40 APCR-round was very rare in Finnish use. This is because only small number of this ammunition type was delivered in Finland (at least one shipment seems to have arrived in June - August of 1943). Besided the ammunition listed here the Germans had also less effective Hl/A and more effective Hl/C HEAT-rounds, but these does not seem to have been delivered to Finland. Ammunition Finnish military used with 75 K/40:

  • 75 pshekrv rj 22/27-ps: German APHE-round Pzgr.39. Most numerous of antitank rounds the Finns used with these guns.
  • 75 hkr rj-Vj HL/B 18/24-38: German HEAT-round Gr 38 Hl/B with tracer.
  • 75 akr rj 33/43-Np/23: German HE-round Spr. Gr. 34. Filling 690 grams of amatol.
  • 75 psav rj-Vj6: German APCR-round PzGr. 40 with tracer. Projectile had tungsten-core. Only in limited use with Finnish Army, since only few hundred rounds with this projectile were delivered to Finland in 1943 (was also only in limited use with German military, due to Germany not having enough tungsten).
  • One might wonder how successful 75 K/40 could have been as antitank-weapon for example in 1960's. The Cold War era tank development kept tank development going hard and new generation of better armoured tanks would have been a hard nut to crack with world War 2 ammunition used in 75 K/40. Finnish military was aware of this and circa 1960 - 1961 it was testing new APDS-type ammunition capable for 220-mm armour penetration from shooting distance of 1,000 meters with 90-degree angle of impact. However apparently this new ammunition type did not see mass production.


    SOURCES:

    Werner Haupt: Panzerabwehrgeschütze 3,7 cm - 5,0 cm - 7,5 cm - 8,8 cm-Pak 1934 - 1945 ohne Selbstfahrlafetten.

    Alex Buchner: Deutsche and alliierte heereswaffen 1939 - 1945.

    Erkki Käkelä: Marskin Panssarintuhoojat.

    Article of Markku Palokangas: Anti-tank guns used by Finnish Army (Journal of Military History 17).

    Article of Markku Palokangas: Sotiemme aseveteraanien myöhemmät vaiheet (Ase-lehti magazine edition 2/95).

    Article of Risto Erjola: Ampumatarvikkeet sotien 1939 - 1945 aikana Suomessa (Tiede ja Ase, Suomen sotahistoriallisen vuosiseuran julkaisu N:o 48, 1990).

    Pekka Kantakoski: Punaiset panssarit.

    Jyri Paulaharju: Itsenäisen Suomen kenttätykit 1918 - 1995.

    Article of Lauri Harvila: Panssarintorjunta-aseet (Kansa taisteli magazine edition 10/1976).

    Terry Gander and Peter Chamberlain: Small arms, artillery and special weapons of the third reich.

    Chris Chant: Artillery of World War II.

    Ian Hogg: Twentieth-Century Artillery.

    Ian Hogg: German Artillery of World War Two.

    "Panzerabwehrkanonen 1916 - 1977" by Franz Koser.

    Rolf M. Urrisk: Die Bewaffnung des Österreichischen Bundesheeres 1918 - 1990.

    Kurt Sallaz and Peter Riklin: Bewaffnung und Ausrüstung der Schweizer Armee seit 1817, Panzer und Panzerabwehr.

    Article: 75 K/40, Panssarintorjunnan selkäranka kesällä 1944 by Kari Kuusela in Suomen Sotilas magazine vol. 4/2004.

    Article: Panssarintorjuntamme kehittyminen 1944 - 1964 by Jouni Laari (Journal of Military History 26).

    Military manual: 45 mm Jv. tykkiopas by Päämaja. (Printed 1940)

    Military manual: Ampumatarvikenimikkeistö by Puolustusvoimien Pääesikunta Taisteluvälineosasto (printed 1941).

    Military manual: Kenttätykistön ampumatarvikkeet by Puolustusvoimien Pääesikunta Taisteluvälineosasto (printed 1940, updates added until 1947).

    Military manual: Jalkaväen Ampumatarvikkeet I by Puolustusvoimien Pääesikunta Taisteluvälineosasto (printed 1941, updated until September 1944).

    Military manual: 75 mm:n panssarintorjuntakanuuna vuodelta 1940 (published 1943).

    Military manual: Väliaikainen 75 K/40 harjoitus- ja taisteluopas (published 1945).

    Finnish Military Archives folder T19052/2.

    Finnish military archives, archive references T20206/F9, /F10 and /F11.

    Finnish military archives, archive reference T10910

    Guns vs Armour by D.M. Honner.

    Battles of Winter War website Special thanks to its webmaster Sami Korhonen.

    Documents from folder T/20207 /F16 sal in Sota-Arkisto (Finnish Military Archives).

    Special thanks to Sotamuseo (Finnish Military Museum), Helsinki.

    Special thanks to Panssarimuseo (Finnish Armour Museum), Parola.

    Special thanks to Tykistömuseo (Finnish Artillery Museum), Hämeenlinna.

    Special thanks to Jalkaväkimuseo (Finnish Infantry Museum), Mikkeli.


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